The white-labeled education services business is scaling rapidly, and institutions of all sizes are building online programs. Learning House operates in the small, regional college and university segment, and has built a nice business.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your personal journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised and in what kind of background?
Todd Zipper: I was born in New York. I went to University of Pennsylvania for my undergraduate and studied History and Economics. Like many people from Penn in the mid 90s, I made my way to Wall Street – to the Equity Research Department of Solomon Brothers, which eventually became Citi Group. >>>
Tod has built an interesting online education company focused on specific niche course types. Read on to learn more.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your personal journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Tod Browndorf: Wow! We’re really going way back. I’m originally from the east coast. I was born in South Carolina but was raised in New York and New Jersey for most of my life. I lost my father when I was 10 and a half years old. I started working very early in life. He was in the manufacturing business. I started working early through school. I travelled the world pretty extensively. I lived in Australia for quite a while. I lived in the Middle East and eventually started my career in Finance. I started off as a trader on Wall Street, then later here in San Francisco.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do for school? >>>
Online first or classroom first? This discussion delves into the design principles of the two models.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as to the Digital Learning initiative at Harvard.
Bharat Anand: I’m a Professor in Strategy at Harvard Business School. I also served as Faculty Chair of our new online learning initiative called HBX, which launched in 2014.
Sramana Mitra: What is the mission of HBX?
Bharat Anand: We started HBX as a way to keep up what seemed to be fascinating trends in the online education space. We really tried to think about how we, as a school, can create some offerings that serve our residential students well as well as allow us to better fulfil our mission, which is training and educating leaders who make a difference in the world. Those are really the objectives behind HBX. >>>
Analyts expect the digital education market to quadruple in size to $450 billion over the next five years. Chegg (NYSE: CHGG) is moving away from its traditional textbook rental service to focus on this disruptive market. >>>
The idea behind a flipped classroom has become more popular amongst teachers as of late, which can most likely be attributed to the rise of technology in and out of the classroom. Tools such as computers, smartphones, and tablets are typical items in a student and teacher’s arsenal in more recent times. These technological tools allow for the necessary instructional strategy required for a flipped classroom, which include teaching content at home and activities and discussions (often regarded as homework) being conducted in the class. Learning at home can include reading the required textbook lesson or watching online lectures, which would not have been possible if it was not for the advancement in technology. >>>
There is a lot going on in the educational technology market. In our effort to bring you continued insights in that market, we would like to bring to your attention three recent roundtable discussions:
The exorbitant cost of higher education is a recurrent topic of conversation, concern, and discontent these days. Against that backdrop, an announcement from edX and Arizona State University caught my attention last week. ASU and edX announced a program called Global Freshman Academy:
The Global Freshman Academy (GFA) will give learners anywhere in the world the opportunity to earn freshman-level university credit after successfully completing a series of digital immersion courses hosted on edX, designed and taught by leading scholars from ASU. By allowing students to learn, explore and complete courses before applying or paying for credit, the Global Freshman Academy reimagines the freshman year and reduces academic and monetary stress while opening a new path to a college degree for many students.
The program differs from other digital immersion undergraduate programs in the following ways:
- Course Credit for Open Online Courses – By completing the full series of eight Global Freshman Academy courses, students earn full college credit for freshman year; students will also be able to opt for taking individual courses for credit if they prefer
- Cost Effective – Freshman year credit earned through GFA is a fraction of the cost students typically pay
- Learning Before Payment – Students may decide to take a course for credit at the beginning or after coursework has been completed – reducing financial risk while opening a pathway for exploration and preparation for qualified students who may not otherwise seek a degree.
- Unlimited Reach – Because of the open course format, learning takes place while scaling completely – there are no limits to how many learners can take the courses online
- Innovative Admissions Option – GFA’s approach is different from the traditional admissions process of other credit-bearing courses, eliminating such barriers to entry as standardized tests and transcripts that are part of the traditional application process.
- Track Record of Success – This partnership brings together a globally recognized online educational platform founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a university whose innovative online degree programs boast an 89 percent retention rate.
Warren is the CTO of Smart Technologies, a $500 million provider of virtual classroom solutions. He offers a window into trends in the space and ideas for new entrepreneurs to focus on.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing yourself as well as SMART Technologies. What do you do?
Warren Barkley: I’m the CTO for SMART Technologies. I joined about two years ago from Microsoft. I was at Microsoft for about 16 years. I did a whole bunch of interesting things there. I worked on WiFi, networking, and a lot of other cool projects over the years. Before that, I was a teacher and a principal. If I reach far enough back, I was a musician at one point. I didn’t get a Computer Science degree but I somehow figured my way out into technology.